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Seeking redemption for St. Gabe’s Chapel

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | St. Gabriel’s Chapel. Owner Richard Hogan plans to have it demolished.

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | St. Gabriel’s Chapel. Owner Richard Hogan plans to have it demolished.

There’s a chance the chapel can be saved.

After it was revealed that Richard Hogan, the owner of the 25-acre St. Gabriel’s property where the chapel stands, plans to demolish it, Supervisor Jim Dougherty said Monday the town would seek grants to save the 78-year old structure.

The idea is to secure funds with some town participation to save the chapel and keep it on the property, or, Mr. Dougherty said, “move it to another property.”

Mr. Hogan, who in an appearance before the Planning Board in July 2015, said, “Nobody in my family would be comfortable knocking down a church,” changed course recently.

He has said that if left standing, the chapel would deteriorate and become an eyesore on the property. Restoring it, he’s indicated, would be cost prohibitive. The only solution is to destroy the structure.

A real estate professional — requesting anonymity — who at one point represented the Passionists when the property was for sale, said Monday the cost of restoring or moving the chapel isn’t the issue.

“It comes down to whether or not [Mr. Hogan} wants to keep it,” the real estate professional said.

Councilman Jim Colligan said he’s been hearing from constituents asking if anything can be done to save the chapel. A story in the Reporter and posted on its website sparked responses from many readers expressing outrage or sorrow or both at the chapel being razed.

Mr. Dougherty said at last week’s Town Board work session that he would speak with Mr. Hogan. The conversation is on hold, however, since Mr. Hogan is in Europe, the supervisor said. He said he would meet with the developer sometime next month.

Mr. Hogan’s Pandion Acquisitions bought the mostly undeveloped 25-acre property on Coecles Harbor in April 2015 from the Passionists, a Catholic religious order, for $15.1 million. Mr. Hogan plans to subdivide and develop the property.

The property had been for sale for years. Mr. Dougherty had advocated using Community Preservation Fund money — a tax collected on real estate sales that goes to purchase open space — to buy St. Gabriel’s and preserve it.

But the town’s Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board, the group tasked with targeting and vetting open space purchases, said the fund didn’t have the money, plus St. Gabriel’s is a developed property and can’t be classified as open space.

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